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Cairngorms Local Access Annual Event

22nd September 2008

MAKING the most of the Cairngorms’ spectacular hills, woods and lochs will be the focus of a dynamic discussion and activity day in Braemar on Saturday (27 September)

Cameron McNeish, broadcaster, writer and editor of TGO magazine, is the guest speaker at this year’s Cairngorms Local Outdoor Access Annual event run by the Cairngorms National Park Authority.

MSP Mike Rumbles, who was closely involved in the drafting of Scotland’s access laws, will welcome participants to the open day, from 10am to 4pm in Braemar Village Hall.

People will be able to question and discuss issues with the guest speakers as well as with staff and volunteers involved with outdoor access in the Cairngorms National Park. Providing high quality opportunities for outdoor access is one of the Priorities for Action in the National Park Plan, which sets out the Park’s short and long term future.

Recreational access in the uplands is the theme of the day. Among the hot topics up for discussion will be upland path management and the responsibilities associated with outdoor access.

There will be an opportunity for the public to get out and about during the day to learn first hand about issues such as deer stalking and walking, mountain biking, endurance horse riding and dogs in the countryside. The event is free but people need to book a place here or by phoning 01479 873535.

Mr Rumbles, Liberal Democrat MSP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, will open the event at 10.15am. Media are invited to attend.

Mr Rumbles said: “It’s now five years since Scotland’s access laws were revised, and as far as I am concerned this has been one of the Scottish Parliament’s major success stories. I know that the right of responsible access to Scotland’s countryside is ­rightly prized by Scottish people, but we must be constantly aware of the many issues that such a policy can raise.”­

In his talk Mr McNeish is expected to raise a range of issues, including liability and landowners’ concerns, the notion of people’s ’emotional ownership’ of land, and the access responsibilities that come with that. The controversial Alladale reintroduction project in Sutherland and the implications for areas such as the Cairngorms National Park, will also be in the spotlight.

Mr McNeish said: “Scotland boasts some of the finest access legislation in the world but the privileges come at a price and that price is responsibility. It’s incumbent on all of us to know what our responsibilities are so that we can all share our wonderful landscapes with mutual care and understanding.

“Our access arrangements give all of us an opportunity to enjoy the wonderful countryside and landscapes for which Scotland is world famous. It’s up to all of us to work together to make sure these arrangements work, for the benefit of everyone.”

Eric Baird, the Cairngorms National Park Authority’s vice convener and head ranger at Glen Tanar estate, said: “Braemar is a fantastic setting for this event on recreational access in the uplands as it is in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park and is surrounded by spectacular hills. The Cairngorms National Park is a fantastic place for people to experience the outdoors, with mountains, rivers, and forests.

“By bringing people together at this event we can help to understand how we can all enjoy and protect the area’s precious natural and cultural heritage.”